J. C. Nyíri (Budapest):

Thinking with a Word Processor(1)

In a well-known passage of the Blue Book Wittgenstein remarks: "We may say that thinking is essentially the activity of operating with signs. This activity is performed by the hand, when we think by writing; by the mouth and the larynx, when we think by speaking." We may, he continues, legitimately employ the expressions "'we think with our mouths', or 'we think with a pencil on a piece of paper'".(2) When one of Wittgenstein's favourite authors, Friedrich Nietzsche, started to use a typewriter and sent some rhymes he produced on it to a friend, the latter - a composer - commented upon the robust language. "Perhaps you will through this instrument even take to a new idiom", the friend wrote; "with me at any rate this could happen; I do not deny that my 'thoughts' in music and language often depend on the quality of pen and paper".(3) To which Nietzsche replied: "You are right - our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts."(4)

The question I am here asking is: In what ways, if any, are our thoughts affected by the shift from the pen or the typewriter to a word processor? My question is not whether thinking about computers changes the image we have of ourselves; nor indeed whether computers do or do not think.(5) What I do ask is: With the word processor becoming our writing instrument, what changes do there occur, if any, in the ways and content of our thinking?(6) In particular, what changes can there be discerned, or expected, in terms of the organization of our ideas; in terms of the organization of our memory - our access to, and summary view of, the ideas available to us; in terms of our concept of time; and in terms of the perception we have of the place and role of our thoughts in relation to the thoughts of others. The notion that thinking

- both how we think and what we think - is not independent of the concrete linguistic medium in which it unfolds is of course very much in accordance with Wittgenstein's position. Not only does Wittgenstein say: "When I think in language, there aren't 'meanings' going through my mind in addition to the verbal expressions: the language is itself the vehicle of thought", and not only does he point out that what we are concerned with is "the spatial and temporal phenomenon of language"(7), but he also repeatedly stresses, and indeed this is one of his central insights, that the meaning of a linguistic sign depends on the circumstances, the spatial and temporal surroundings(8) in which it occurs; that intention depends on context. However, Wittgenstein does not seem to have been alert to the fact that contexts change with the medium; that "thinking by writing" creates linguistic surroundings radically different from those created by "thinking by speaking". Let me come to my main topic by touching on these differences first.

In order to highlight some characteristic features of thinking by speaking we have to bring to mind conditions where literacy is altogether absent. Our knowledge of such conditions comes from ethnology studying primitive peoples; and from classical philology reconstructing the poetry of Homeric Greece.(9) If speaking has no recourse to written texts, verbal recollection will have to rely on specific mnemotechnic devices: on rhythm, rhyme, and formulaic repetition. Presenting texts will mean: the stitching together of songs, the producing of poetry out of traditional elements. Verbal knowledge will be preserved, as far as necessary and as far as possible, in handed-down rhythmic formulas. The singing of oral epic does not, and cannot, amount to the reproduction of a fixed text. There is no original version and no authorship; there is no correctness or incorrectness of recollection, only a greater or lesser mastery in the handling of traditional patterns. Phrases, not words, are the threads out of which texts are woven; phrases are remembered, adjusted; they are not, however, compared to each other; a juxtaposition of spoken utterances is impossible, the idea of textual identity makes no sense, notions of logical coherence and contradiction do not emerge. This is not to suggest that in the Greece of Homer questions as to the accuracy or deceitfulness of utterances, or as to the accord between utterances and deeds, did not arise. It was not feasible, however, to preserve the exact wording of extended texts over longer periods. Records of bygone events did not survive unchanged as time went by; past and present merged.

He who thinks by speaking learns by hearing. His thoughts do not belong to him, they belong to everyone. Homeric Greek has no words to represent mental events; thinking is dialogue, thinking to oneself a dialogue between parts of one's body.(10) There is no vocabulary to express abstract cognitive states or processes. Of Homeric heroes it is not predicated that they possess wisdom, or knowledge; what is said of them is that they are good at counsel, skilled at action, sharp-sighted in spotting danger.(11) Learning by hearing precludes criticism. The listener's task is to absorb what is being said; doubt should not impede memorizing. Faithful attending is safeguarded by the belief that the text delivered has been handed down unchanged through the generations and is, ultimately, of divine origin. With the development of alphabetic writing and the spread of literacy in Greece, critical thinking emerges. In their written

-down form, oral narratives invite reflection and interpretation. Reflection: that is, bending back words and taking a look at them. Interpretation: that is, making one word stand for another. Texts are now compared, contradictions detected. The transition from oral to written formulation gives rise to the genre of the philosophical aphorism: Heraclitus and Parmenides still compose for an illiterate audience, they have to think up memorable formulas, but their thinking already shows the influence of the logic of writing. Written language permits a syntax of abstractions: Plato is dissatisfied with talking about beautiful things, he wishes to know what the beautiful itself is; meanings become an issue. If what is known are abstract objects, the knower, too, is construed as an abstract entity: the notion of a soul with cognitive capacities makes its appearance.

Still, thinking in ancient Greece and Rome, and all through the Middle Ages, remains, predominantly, thinking by speaking and hearing. Silent reading is almost unknown;(12) the written text, devoid of intervals and punctuation,(13) has to be read out loud in order to be understood. Copying by hand is laborious: texts are rare, learning still amounts, on the whole, to listening, the authority of the teacher is scarcely weakened. Texts are interspersed by comments if copied by an expert scholar, impaired by mistakes if copied by an unqualified clerk: copies of the same work increasingly differ from each other, the notion of authorship remains blurred. The decay of texts evokes the notion of ancient truths now lost; the disfigured references to dates, names, and places in historical narratives result in an intermingling of fact and legend. Only with the advent of the printed book will the cognitive consequences of literacy fully unfold.(14) Printing produces thousands of identical copies; mistakes are, with every new edition, progressively eliminated; a community of scholars all over Europe works on the same texts, gradually establishing a firm framework of categories, names, of historical time and geographical space; descriptions, findings, discoveries can be increasingly compared with each other, maps, diagrams, illustrations, figures and calculations reproduced; the ideal of a unified knowledge, symbolized by the metaphor library, emerges.(15) The past is now articulated along a stable chronology, antiquity is seen as forever gone, as something entirely different from the present; modern historical consciousness comes into being. The biographies of different personalities cease to be merged with each other, portraits showing characteristic features are reproduced unchanged over the time, the framework of the modern individual is created. The printed page is easily scanned, silent reading becomes the rule, writing does not have to be transformed into sound in order to be intelligible, texts are there, ready to be looked up, knowledge is available, objective, contained in books. At the same time, knowledge is centered around the knower: the scholar is surrounded by his books, they belong to him, they even accompany him on his journeys, an image enhanced by that astounding new invention, the portable book; thinking ceases to be heard, to be public, it proceeds, as philosophy now sees it, in the privacy of the thinker's mind. In Locke's telling formulation the mind is at first a "white paper, void of all characters", onto which experience will "imprint" ideas, while the subsequent operations of the mind then consist in "viewing" its own ideas, in "reflecting" upon them.(16) Words on the printed page appear clearly and distinctly. The handwritten manuscript however which the author prepares is, as a rule, rather convoluted. If one adds to this that authors tend to experience feelings of intimacy and elation at the sight of their handwriting, the conclusion is difficult to avoid that the writer thinks in a medium less clear than the one in which his readers will think. Fair copies offer only partial remedy; author's corrections in proof are not just second thoughts, but thoughts in a more externalized, more objective setting. With the introduction of the typewriter much of this, of course, becomes past history. The typewritten text is impersonal and perspicuous; ideas generated on a typewriter will easily look distant, even strange, inviting critical scrutiny. Heidegger acts in accordance with his grand strategy of dissolving the subject

-object dichotomy in philosophy when he crusades against the typewriter. He admits that typing does have some limited use when serving as transcription and preserving handwriting,(17) but abhors the machine taking the place of the hand, depriving script, as he says, of its essential source, degrading the word to a mere means of communication.(18)

For Nietzsche of course the typewriter had an entirely different significance. He was, from his early youth on, extremely short

-sighted, his eyes quickly getting tired and painful, causing terrible headaches. By the end of the 1870s he was practically unable to formulate his ideas in writing. His daily routine was to go for extended walks, immersed in dialogues with himself and thinking up short aphorisms, spoken aloud as Holingdale assumes,(19) jotting them down in small notebooks, and then at home, from time to time, trying to decipher the scribble and prepare some clean text. There is much he can in the end not copy, especially when it comes to longer remarks. He curses his unwilled telegraphic style and when he learns about the new invention, the typewriter, he jumps at this possibility of writing without looking(20) - "touch typing" we call it, but in Nietzsche's case the German term, "Blindschreiben", is more apt. He receives the machine early in 1882, in Italy, he is delighted, but of course the initial difficulties are frustrating, his spoken-out-loud thoughts are now being written down in a style even more terse. Wann werde ich es ueber meine Finger bringen, einen langen Satz zu drücken, he complains to a friend - "When will my fingers enable me to type a long sentence!"(21) Eventually the machine turns out to be a disappointment, the ribbon gets torn, becomes even wet and sticky when the weather is damp, and then one can't see the letters at all. Nietzsche goes on thinking-out-loud a philosophy which, significantly, detects in grammar and language the source of metaphysics, of that "prejudice of reason" forcing us to assume "unity, identity, permanence, substance"; and argues against the "old conceptual fiction that posited a 'pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject'".(22) In Nietzsche's thinking the intuitions of written language are gradually stifled, and the intuitions of spoken language come to the fore.

As I have attempted to show in some previous papers of mine,(23) Wittgenstein's later philosophy, too, reflects the spirit of spoken language, of language voiced and heard. Of course Wittgenstein had no difficulties with writing; indeed he was an obsessive writer.(24) But he did have a problematic relation to written language, especially to written language in its fully developed form: the printed book. Already in the preface to his Wörterbuch für Volksschulen Wittgenstein had complained about the distorting effects of typography; and his reluctance to publish his writings is of course notorious. I also have in mind his poor orthography; his anachronistic predilection for having people read out loud texts to him; the common observation that his favourite readings he really knew by heart; the aphorism and the dialogue as conspicuous stylistic features of his writing; and his inability or unwillingness to put together what one would call a treatise in the modern sense. "It was my intention at first", he writes in the preface to his Philosophical Investigations, "to bring all this together in a book", with the aim "that the thoughts should proceed from one subject to another in a natural order and without breaks." But he had to realize, he continues, that he would never succeed "to weld [his] results together into such a whole", that even the best he could write "would never be more than philosophical remarks" and that "this was, of course, connected with the very nature of the investigation. For this compels us to travel over a wide field of thought criss-cross in every direction. - The same or almost the same points were always being approached afresh from different directions, and new sketches made." Wittgenstein's method of composition, as you know, was a rather peculiar one. He first wrote down his remarks in small pocket notebooks. Subsequently he copied them into large manuscript books, making selections and changes in the process. These manuscripts were then again edited, some remarks left out, but the bulk of them, once in a while, dictated to a typist. What now followed was thinking with scissors: Wittgenstein cut up the typescripts, arranged and rearranged the cuttings, having some of the arrangements typed again at some later stage. If at the time the word processor had already been introduced, Wittgenstein could have made good use of it. Or, if I may put it more pointedly: lack of a single perspective in Wittgenstein's later thinking invited a method of composition which today calls to mind the operations of a word processor. There is a view according to which word processing is just a "refinement of printing", a kind of "glorified typing".(25) I think this view is, ultimately, misleading; but it provides a convenient initial perspective. What are, then, the characteristics of the word processor, regarded as a typing and printing instrument? Bear with me while I summarize the obvious. A text composed on a word processor is revised, edited, formatted and re-formatted, printed, and even published, with very little effort. Writing on a word processor is easy both in the sense of permitting for the provisory, the draft, the experiment, and in the sense of allowing for ready use of bits of texts already there - of one's own texts, or of texts written by others, the latter effortlessly amalgamated with the former. Huge masses of writings, contemporary and classical, become available either on tape, CD-ROM, and disk - like dictionaries and encyclopaedias, the Greek and Latin corpus, English poetry in its entirety, the Musil Nachlaß(26), now even Wittgenstein(27) - or through networks, providing access to databases of various kinds, among them to electronic editions of a growing number of scholarly journals.(28) Networking becomes, increasingly, a matter of course, especially since joining the e-mail community is an unavoidable must. Let me spell out this last point by saying that when we inquire about the cognitive consequences of using a word processor, our questions ultimately relate to the word processor as enmeshed in a network. And let me make the observation that the practice of networking undermines the habit of producing printouts. When paper is not needed to mediate between the writer and his reader, it will be less and less used to mediate between the writer and himself. Clearly, we have come a long way by now from the idea of the word processor as a glorified typewriter. But even the isolated word processor, even with the documents written on it regularly printed out, will give rise to patterns of linguistic behaviour, and indeed to patterns of thinking, that are significantly different from the patterns created by typing and book printing.

The text of a printed book or article is a finished product, is there to be referred to, looked up, read, reflected upon, criticized. The reader may add marginal notes to the text, but he cannot rewrite it. Even its author cannot rewrite it, though of course he may prepare a new edition. The old and the new editions will then exist side by side, ready to be compared with each other. The typewritten text might be a definitive one, as for instance a legal document bearing the necessary signatures, or might have a provisional character, waiting to be revised by its author or a reader. The corrections and alterations will be in handwriting, with the old text usually still discernible under the old. The revised text might, or might not, be re

-typed; if it is re-typed, the old type-script is usually kept, and as a rule there exist carbon copies both of the old and the new versions.

By contrast, a text on the word processor's display is there to be updated

- to be altered, revised. As Richard Dimler has put it: For the user of a word processor, language has "become dynamic rather than static, malleable rather than fixed, soft rather than hard, plastic rather than rigid. As a consequence language never seems to reach a finished stage"(29). When a text is changed, the original wording usually vanishes without a trace. It is not there, anymore, on the display; and if the corrections were made in a printout in the first place, the printout is subsequently thrown away. Of course one can keep old printouts, and of course one can save the older versions of one's files - but there would have to be a special reason for one to do so. With old typescripts by contrast, one has to have a special reason to throw them away. Texts stored in a word processor bear no marks of their history, they are ageless, they possess no temporal existence of their own. And by being subject to continual re-writing, they possess a merely limited objectivity not just of meaning, but of form as well. When deliberated over, they will not be interpreted, they will be altered. Thinking about them is, partly, changing them. They cease to be pure objects of thought; they become the thoughts themselves, thoughts in flux. As Colette Daiute observes in her Writing and Computers, the word processor can "blur the distinctions between thinking, talking, and writing in a way that the pencil and typewriter [does] not".(30) Or as Michael Heim puts it in his Electric Language: A Philosophical Study of Word Processing: "The immediacy of formulation in digital writing is akin to the immediacy of speaking. ... word processing reclaims something of the direct flow of oral discourse."(31) Relieved, to some extent, of the "constraints imposed by the linear order of writing on paper"(32), the writer "can begin anywhere in the text"(33), just like, at the dawn of literacy, Parmenides could: it is all one to me where I begin, he said - "faithfully reproducing", as Havelock puts it, "the plunge that the bard takes into [his] medium".(34) Also, as Dimler already observes, word processing "fosters a modular style in writing", "the writer will be tempted to repeat set formulas and phrases, a linguistic throw-back to the ancient 'singers of tales' who used oral formulas as mnemonic devices in recounting the great historic epics"(35).

Just as speaking, as a rule, is less coherent than writing, a text composed on screen tends to be less coherent than a text composed in handwriting or on the typewriter. The reason for this is obvious. Maintaining coherence is a matter of comparing texts with each other, as well as of comparing one bit of a text with other bits of the same text. On screen such comparisons can be executed to a very limited extent only. Depending on the system used and the kind of display available, one, two, or even more documents can be viewed simultaneously; but of each document only a small segment will be exposed at a time. Comparison of segments of texts

- their juxtaposition - is of course becoming less awkward as programs allowing for a flexible use of so-called "windows" are increasingly available. Working with windows does indeed resemble working with sheets of paper - but the resemblance is confined to narrow limits. A synoptic view of all accessible and relevant documents, or even of a single extended document, is not possible to attain. Contradictions become difficult to spot; the unity of a text difficult to sustain. A decrease in logical rigor is the inevitable consequence. On a pedestrian level, publishers now learn to be prepared for novel types of authors' mistakes, generated by the use of word processors - like, for example, paragraphs having been moved in such a manner that the result is nonsensical,(36) or like the same paragraph repeatedly occurring, having been copied to more than one place in the text. This is the surface. At a deeper level one might perhaps formulate the preliminary conclusion that thinking with a word processor combines the characteristics of both pre-literal and literal thought patterns. It is fluid, fragmentary, formulaic, with no unity of perspective, and a diminishing sense of the self. At the same time it can rely on texts - on an immense mass of texts - that are there to be looked up.

These characteristics are vastly amplified when the word processor becomes connected to a network. The basic form of networking is e

-mail, and it is fascinating to observe how closely the style of e-mail messages tends to resemble that of spoken language. E-mail texts abound with false starts and incoherent sentences. The apparent reason for this is that e-mail letters are, commonly, written in software surroundings which allow for corrections only to a very limited degree. The resulting text then contains any number of mistakes, mostly innocent, but sometimes amounting to a truly Freudian spectacle - and still the message gets dispatched, because one is in a hurry and does not want to start all over again. And here I think the element of hurrying constitutes the essential reason, and the limitations in editing are merely a corollary. After all, as you of course know, e-mail messages can indeed be composed in subtle word processing surroundings, permitting any degree of careful consideration; but switching to an appropriate text editor takes time. Instead, the technical possibility of sending off an e-mail letter on the spot will be seized on. You read your mail and answer it - on the spur of the moment, just like in a conversation. Incidentally, e-mail exchanges tend to represent a particularly rude type of conversation. As a brief survey in the Chronicle of Higher Education, way back in 1985, formulated: "Electronic mail promotes a confrontational style - you get angry and you whip off a message - something you would not say face to face because it is impolite."(37) Or, as a newsletter of the University of Pittsburgh some months ago has put it: "A good thing to remember is that there is a human being behind that network username and e-mail address. It is easy to tear into a faceless target, especially when you can hide behind an impersonal computer interface."(38)

With networking, the body of information accessible, of texts there to be scanned and used, is growing at a tremendous rate and will in time, no doubt, be all

-inclusive. However, knowledge yielded by search processes is, inevitably, made up of disconnected elements. Typically, one has an incomplete notion of what one is looking for; and what one then finds is again incomplete, lacking context. The metaphor of the library will not fit here, the images of outline, orientation, browsing are not applicable. As Heim puts it: "Textual database searches conceal as well as reveal what it is we learn."(39) In a way this is true of computer memory generally: it buries as well as stores what we have learnt.

Networking radically blurs the notion of individual authorship. Already at the level of simple word

-processing, cooperative writing is easy, co-authors can readily revise and complement each other's texts. With networking, one's ideas emerge and evolve in surroundings in which the ideas of many other persons are incessantly and actively present, affecting one's ideas, and themselves being affected by them. As Stevan Harnad, the editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences with prophetic zeal emphasizes, the pursuit, as well as the dissemination, of scientific knowledge is thereby substantially restructured. "The whole process of scholarly communication", Harnad writes, "is currently undergoing a revolution comparable to the one occasioned by the invention of printing. ... The potential role of electronic networks in scientific publication ... goes far beyond providing searchable electronic archives for electronic journals."(40) Harnad lists the cognitive revolutions of the emergence of speech, the advent of writing, and then the invention of the printing press. "All three", he says, "had a dramatic effect on how we thought as well as on how we expressed our thoughts, so arguably they had an equally dramatic effect on what we thought."(41) But to-day, Harnad stresses, a "fourth cognitive revolution" is imminent: e-mail networks becoming the carriers of

that vast prepublication phase of scientific inquiry in which ideas and findings are discussed informally with colleagues (currently in person, by phone and by regular mail), presented more formally in seminars, conferences and symposia, and distributed still more widely in the form of preprints... It has now become possible to do all this in a remarkable new way that is not only incomparably more thorough and systematic in its distribution, potentially global in scale, and almost instantaneous in speed, but ... unprecedentedly interactive...(42) Scholarly inquiry in this new medium, called "scholarly skywriting" by Harnad, "is likely to become a lot more participatory, though", adds Harnad, "perhaps also more depersonalized, with ideas propagating and permuting on the net in directions over which their originators would be unable (and indeed perhaps unwilling) to claim proprietorship."(43) These are, then, some of the ways in which our thinking changes when we are thinking with a word processor. But what is it really, I would like to ask by way of conclusion, we think "with" when we think with a word processor? Here the Wittgenstein passage I quoted in the beginning was, if you will forgive me, chosen not so much to enlighten, as rather to set the stage. Thinking, in the view of the mature Wittgenstein, is not done with anything; it is not an activity at all. Hacker is entirely right when he says that "[the] parallels between the grammar of thinking and the grammar of activities are misleading, for they induce us to overlook important differences. Nothing need go on when one thinks."(44) This is, after all, one of the fundamental Wittgensteinian discoveries: that mental phenomena cannot be identified independently of Umstände, of the broad story within which they occur; that, as I stressed earlier, intention depends on context. So what are the characteristics of the context, of the circumstances, under which we say that we are thinking - with a word processor? What kind of language game is: "thinking with a word processor"? I have tried to outline an answer in the foregoing: When we think with a word processor it is a synchronous intellectual exchange with fellow thinkers all over the world we are, ultimately, engaged in. So what are we thinking with when we think with a word processor? The word "with" here, I conclude, does in the last analysis point not to instrumental application - but to human companionship.


1. I am indebted to the Caledonian Research Foundation and the Royal Society of Edinburgh for a European Visiting Research Fellowship at the Centre for Philosophy and Public Affairs, Department of Moral Philosophy, University of St. Andrews, in Spring 1993, during which time the present paper was written. I am especially indebted to the Director of the Centre, John Haldane, for helpful and stimulating conversations. Also, I would like to acknowledge the encouragement and support extended to me by Stevan Harnad (Princeton).

2. Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue and Brown Books, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958, pp.6f.

3. "Vielleicht gewöhnen Sie Sich mit diesem Instrument gar eine neue Ausdrucksweise an; - mir wenigstens könnte es so ergehen; ich leugne nicht, dass meine 'Gedanken' in der Musik und Sprache oft von der Qualität der Feder und des Papiers abhängen", Heinrich Köselitz to Nietzsche, February 19, 1882. Nietzsche Briefwechsel, Kritische Gesamtausgabe, III/2, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1981, p.229.

4. "Sie haben Recht - unser Schreibzeug arbeitet mit an unseren Gedanken." Nietzsche Briefwechsel III/1, p.172.

5. I have touched on this problem in my paper "Wittgenstein and the Problem of Machine Consciousness", Grazer Philosophische Studien 33/34 (1989).

6. An earlier attempt of mine to deal with this question is the paper "Historisches Bewußtsein im Informationszeitalter", in: Dieter Mersch - J.C. Nyíri, eds., Computer, Kultur, Geschichte: Beiträge zur Philosophie des Informationszeitalters, Wien: Edition Passagen, 1991, pp.65-80. Engl. transl. in my volume Tradition and Individuality: Essays, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1992. A major work treating the same question is Michael Heim, Electric Language: A Philosophical Study of Word Processing, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987; Heim and I appear to have basically the same bibliographical background and have reached a number of similar conclusions, but he prefers a more Heideggerian approach while I am more of a technological determinist. Very relevant seems to be Jay David Bolter, Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing, Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1991, which however only came to my attention after having completed this paper. But I had read, and profited from, Bolter's earlier book Turing's Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.

7. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 329 and 108.

8. Cf. Philosophical Investigations, 539.

9. On the epistemological significance of the orality/literacy distinction three outstanding studies are: Jack Goody and Ian Watt, "The Consequences of Literacy" (1963), in: Goody (ed.), Literacy in Traditional Societies, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1968; Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word, London: Methuen, 1982; and Eric Havelock, The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present, New Haven: 1986. - A chronological overview: The most important line of research on orality/literacy was initiated by the Homeric studies of Milman Parry in the late 1920s. In the collected edition of these (A. Parry, ed., The Making of Homeric Verse: The Collected Papers of Milman Parry, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971) the editor specifically refers to the work by Robert Wood, Essay on the Original Genius of Homer (1767). Wood seems to have been the very first author to become aware of the epistemic abyss separating oral conditions from literate ones. Parry's work was continued by his assistant, Albert B. Lord, whose The Singer of Tales appeared in 1960 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press). He also influenced Havelock, whose subsequent works on the subject include, besides the one mentioned above: Preface to Plato, Cambridge, Mass.: 1963; The Greek Concept of Justice: From Its Shadow in Homer to Its Substance in Plato, Cambridge, Mass.: 1978; The Literate Revolution in Greece and Its Cultural Consequences, Princeton: 1982. Another line of development begins with the Hungarian historian István Hajnal, whose "Le rôle social de l'écriture et l'évolution européenne" was published in 1934 in Revue de l'Institut de Sociologie (Bruxelles). This paper is referred to in Harold A. Innis, The Bias of Communication, University of Toronto Press, 1951, and it was under the influence of Innis and of Lord that Marshall McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, Univ. of Toronto Press, 1962, was written. Another author who obviously had a quite essential impact on McLuhan is J. C. Carothers, in whose study "Culture, Psychiatry, and the Written Word", Psychiatry 22 (1959), virtually all the major insights pertaining to the epistemology of the orality/literacy chasm are foreshadowed. An early awareness of the radically novel epistemic perspectives opened up by writing is shown by Oswald Spengler, whose Untergang des Abendlandes (1918) is quoted in the essay of Goody and Watt. And a very clear formulation of the fact that spoken language is interwoven with practice in a way written language is not, the latter allowing for more detached cognitive processes, is Bronislaw Malinowski's supplementary essay in the volume The Meaning of Meaning by Ogden and Richards (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1923). The work of McLuhan, Havelock, Malinowski, and Goody and Watt is further elaborated by Ong, of whose books, beside the one mentioned already, special reference should be made to The Presence of the Word: Some Prolegomena for Cultural and Religious History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967.

10. For a review of the literature, see Joseph Russo and Bennett Simon, "Homeric Psychology and the Oral Epic Tradition", Journal of the History of Ideas, Oct.-Dec. 1968, pp.483-498.

11. Cf. especially K. von Fritz, "NOO und NOEIN in the Homeric Poems", Classical Philology 38 (1943), pp.79-93.

12. Cf. esp. Josef Balogh, "'Voces Paginarum': Beiträge zur Geschichte des lauten Lesens und Schreibens", Philologus 82 (1926), pp.84-109, 202-40, and Paul Saenger, "Silent Reading: Its Impact on Late Medieval Script and Society", Viator 13 (1982), pp.367-414.

13. Robert Wood, An Essay on the Original Genius and the Writings of Homer, 1767, 2nd ed. London: 1775, pp.252-54.

14. The definitive work on the sociological and cognitive consequences of the emergence of typography is Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1979, 2 vols. A pioneering classic is Lucien Febvre - Henri-Jean Martin, L'Apparition du Livre (1958), of which an English translation, too, has been published: The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450-1800, London: NLB, 1976. The Febvre-Martin book contains an informative and intelligent prologue on "Manuscripts" by Marcel Thomas; some conclusions of the latter are foreshadowed in István Hajnal, "Universities and the Development of Writing in the XIIth-XIIIth Centuries", Scriptorium. International Review of Manuscript Studies, VI/2 (1952).

15. For a lucid analysis, cf. Dieter Mersch, Ariadne im Labyrinth der Zeichen: Semiotik, Rationalität und Rationalitätskritik bei Umberto Eco, Diss., Darmstadt: 1993, esp. pp.106ff.

16. Cf. John Locke, An Essay concerning Human Understanding, Book II, ch.1, and Book IV, ch.2.

17. Martin Heidegger, Parmenides, Frankfurt/M.: Vittorio Klostermann, 1982, p.119.

18. Ibid., pp.125 and 119.

19. R.J. Hollingdale, Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1965, p.141.

20. Cf. Curt Paul Janz, Friedrich Nietzsche: Biographie, vol.2, München: Carl Hanser Verlag, p.27.

21. Nietzsche Briefwechsel III/1, p.172.

22. Friedrich Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung (Sämtliche Werke, Kritische Studienausgabe, vol.6, pp.77f.), and Zur Genealogie der Moral (Kritische Studienausgabe, vol.5, p.365).

23. "On Esperanto: Usage and Contrivance in Language", in: Rudolf Haller, ed., Wittgenstein - Towards a Re-Evaluation, Wien: Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1990, vol.II, pp. 303-310, and the chapter "Heidegger and Wittgenstein" of Tradition and Individuality.

24. Compare here Hans Sluga, "Thinking as Writing", Grazer Philosophische Studien, vol.33/34 (1989), pp.115-141.

25. This is the view, for instance, of Robert Sokolowski, whose formulations I am here quoting, cf. his "Natural and Artificial Intelligence", Daedalus, Winter 1988, p.49. Sokolowski is contrasting the effects of the word processor with the possible future effects of artificial intelligence; in his opinion the former does not, but the latter could, change our ways of thinking. As he puts it: "Thinking is shaped by writing; intelligence is modified when it takes on the written form; writing permits us to identify and differentiate things in ways that were not possible when we could speak but not write. If artificial intelligence can in turn transform writing, it may be able to embody a kind of intelligence that cannot occur in any other way", ibid., p.50.

26. For some details and assessments see, for instance, The Times Literary Supplement, April 30, 1993, pp.7ff., and Die Zeit, Dec. 4, 1992, p.65.

27. Cf. David G. Stern, "Toward a Complete Edition of the Wittgenstein Papers: Prospects and Problems", in: R. Casati and G. White, eds., Philosophy and the Cognitive Sciences: Papers of the 16th International Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg am Wechsel: 1993, pp.501-505.

28. For some interesting recent developments see, for instance, The Times Literary Supplement, May 14, 1993, p.17.

29. G. Richard Dimler, S.J., "Word Processing and the New Electronic Language", Thought, vol.61, no.243 (Dec. 1986), p.463.

30. New York: Addison-Wesley, 1985, p.vi.

31. Loc. cit., pp.154 and 209.

32. Daiute, op. cit., pp.97f.

33. Heim, op. cit., p.207.

34. Havelock, "The Alphabetization of Homer", in his The Literate Revolution in Greece, p.179.

35. Dimler, op. cit., p.464.

36. Cf. Adam Hodgkin, "New Technologies in Printing and Publishing: The Present of the Written Word", in: G. Baumann, ed., The Written Word: Literacy in Transition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986, pp.151-169.

37. October 2, 1985, p.32.

38. Connections!, a University of Pittsburgh Computing and Information Services Newsletter, November/December 1992, p.17.

39. Heim, op. cit., p.214.

40. Harnad, "Scholarly Skywriting and the Prepublication Continuum of Scientific Inquiry", Psychological Science 1 (1990).

41. Harnad, "Post-Gutenberg Galaxy: The Fourth Revolution in the Means of Production of Knowledge", Public-Access Computer Systems Review, 1991.

42. Harnad, "Scholarly Skywriting".

43. Ibid.

44. P.M.S. Hacker, Wittgenstein: Meaning and Mind. An analytical commentary on the Philosophical Investigations, Vol. 3. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990, p.304.